Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church

The gift of peace

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This week we consider one more gift of the Holy Spirit – the gift of peace.  The Hebrew word, “shalom,” captures the well-being and joy that God intends for our lives and for our world.  Peace is not just the absence of conflict and troubles, but the complete fulfillment of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. 

Monday          Numbers 6:22-27 (NRSV)
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.  So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.

God gave Aaron and the priests of Israel (and to our pastors) words for the journey ahead.  These words assure us that God sends us into the world with what we need to overcome our troubles and to prosper in our own lives and as a people  – blessing, grace, and peace. 

Why did the people of Israel need the gift of peace?

What words give you peace, in the sense of comfort and joy, in your life? 

Tuesday          Psalm 29:7-11 (NRSV)
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!” The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!

God both battles on our behalf and gives us protection from the conflict.

Have you ever been involved in a great conflict, with others or within yourself? 

Were you able to find peace within the conflict? 

What did you (or others) most need? 

What was most helpful to you or others? 

Wednesday                Isaiah 9:6-7 (NRSV)
A child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

“Zeal” is an eager and determined interest and enthusiasm for a cause usually accompanied by intense feelings and devotion. The Holy Spirit represents God’s zeal for God’s people.  Through the Holy Spirit, God seeks not momentary peace, but complete and everlasting well-being for each of us and for the whole people of God.

Do you have a “zeal” in your life, i.e., something to which you are totally devoted and to which you attend every moment of every day - enthusiastically? 

Does it feel like the Holy Spirit comes and goes in your life? 

Thursday       John 14:26-27 (NRSV)
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

God promised peace to the people of Israel (Tuesday’s verse).  Jesus offered peace to his disciples on the eve of his death.  And, in our time, through the Holy Spirit, we can experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  Even more, we can ask for the gift of peace to offer to others.

When Jesus gives his peace to us, what does he want us to experience?

How have you experienced, as a giver or a receiver, the “peace of the Lord” that we share in worship on Sundays? 

Friday Galatians 5:19-21 (NRSV)
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We deny ourselves and others peace in many ways.  These “works of the flesh” disrupt the peace in our lives and in our world.  They separate us from God and distract us from the work of the Holy Spirit, the giver and the deliverer of the ultimate gift of peace.

What most often disrupts peace in your life?

Saturday        Galatians 5:22-23 (NRSV)
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

The Holy Spirit connects us to God.  If we call upon and allow the Spirit to help us understand and practice God’s will, then we bear much good fruit (John 15:4).  Peace for ourselves and for others is one of these fruits.

Have you called upon God, through the Holy Spirit, to give you peace in your life? 

What was the result? 

Do you continue to experience that peace?  

God, thank you for the promise of complete and everlasting peace in our lives and in our world.   Amen